Saturday, February 5, 2011

Two Years at the Blackboard

            To all those who get the Richard Henry Dana reference, and to those who don’t, welcome to my blog.  A little about me: I am a 22-year-old Teach for America “corps member” teaching at a small charter school in East Los Angeles.  I teach four periods of biology per day and one of writing lab (a remedial writing course; I have since been ‘promoted’ to creative writing).  The former I am qualified to teach, as I have a biology degree from Stanford; the latter I am certainly not, as I’m sure this blog will make clear.
            Teach for America, and America’s public education system, gets a lot of attention in the news these days, most of it hyperbolic.  The primary aim of my blog is to provide a very clear picture of what it is really like, day-to-day, to be both a young classroom teacher and a TFA member.  My cynicism makes me a far-from-typical TFA person, and I have plenty of criticism to share, but while I am not a cheerleader of the program, my comments will not be all negative.  I agree, fundamentally, with what TFA is out to accomplish, and I have plenty to say about that too.
            Teaching can be a crappy job at times, but it’s also a wonderful one.  I really do love (most) of my students, and I have a deep, incredibly nerdy love for the subject I teach.
            Most people seem to form their impressions of what it’s like to be a teacher from movies like Stand and Deliver.  I think that this is because when we are actually in school, it is impossible for us to conceptualize our teachers as real people, and hence they are forever mysterious creatures to us.  That doesn’t have to be the case, and while it’s not quite like the movies, I really do get to break up fistfights, teach sex ed to people who think “you can’t get pregnant if you, like, do it standing up,” meet chess prodigies from the ghetto, and (sigh) attend 5-hour TFA meetings on the importance of having free time.

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